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The Athletics Construction Roundup is a monthly series on construction of athletics facilities. Each month I’ll provide you with a list of athletic construction projects in progress (and recently completed) across the country, including details on budget and scope of the project.
University of Maine
A prominent alumni couple, whose name is already the football field, has donated $800,000 for a new videoboard at Morse Field in the Alfond Sports Stadium. The board is expected to be ready for the first game of next season.
University of Cincinnati
Cincinnati has released new renderings of the previously announced renovation and expansion of Nippert Stadium.
University of Miami
The 34,000 square foot Schwartz Center for Athletic Excellence has been officially dedicated after opening phases. The facility also includes a new football locker room and player lounge.
According to Scott Cowen, the university’s president, Yulman Stadium probably will not be ready in time for the start of the 2014 season. The football stadium’s progress could be delayed due to weather.
Texas A&M University
In an innovative fundraising effort, A&M will sell the grass from the playing surface at Kyle Field. Each piece of grass will come with a care guide.
Auburn Athletic Director Jay Jacobs provides updates on a number of previously announced projects in this open letter.
Louisiana Tech University
As a part of a series of athletic construction projects, Louisiana Tech has announced an $18 million football complex at the south endzone of Joe Aillet Stadium. The facility will include a weight room, team meeting areas, and expanded stadium seating.
Louisiana Tech has also completed a $1.2 million project that includes a videoboard, sound system, and control room at the Thomas Assembly Center.
University of South Dakota
Due to concerns over cost and environmental issues, the design plans for a new arena have changed dramatically. Although previous plans had the arena floor underground, it will now be at ground level.
University of Richmond
Richmond opened the newly renovated Robins Center to the media for a preview. Among several features, the project included videoboards, hospitality areas, and refurbished seating.
University of Arkansas
After last month’s flooding, Bud Walton Arena was repaired and is game ready. The basketball teams missed two practices as a result of the damage.
University of Michigan
The Michigan Athletic Department could be headed for a legal battle with city officials over an electronic billboard outside of Michigan Stadium. The Ann Arbor City Council believes that the marquee is distracting to drivers.
Clemson has announced a major renovation to Littlejohn Coliseum. Details on that project, and several others that are currently ongoing, can be found here.
After player protests led to a cancelled football game, Grambling has announced that the weight room will undergo a $32,000 upgrade.
Mississippi State University
The administration and baseball staff at Mississippi State has asked fans for ideas about a possible renovation to Dudy Noble Field. Head Coach John Cohen has asked that the upgrade create the illusion that stands are full when a strong, but not capacity crowd, is in attendance.
Pennsylvania State University
Penn State’s Pegula Ice Arena has opened. The $90 million arena will be the home to the men’s and women’s hockey programs.
In an effort to provide aspiring sports business professionals with a deeper insight into the college athletic world, BusinessofCollegeSports.com will be conducting weekly Q&A’s via email with industry professionals working in higher athletics. This week’s guest is Steve Barrick, Associate Athletic Director of Operations at Belmont University.
Check out the Q&A below and let us know what you think of Steve’s advice on Twitter.
BusinessOfCollegeSports.com — When did you first realize you wanted to pursue a career in sports?
Steve Barrick — My junior year in college. I was pursuing an undergraduate degree in advertising and realized that I really missed the sports world. At the time, I was working in the Campus Recreation Department at WKU and loved being around sports as an administrator.
Follow Mark on Twitter.
In addition to paying a reported $200,000 to hire Korn/Ferry International, an executive search firm, to assist with its athletic director search, University of Texas has announced an advisory committee that will assist with the search:
- Steve Hicks, vice chair of the Board of Regents, one of the board’s athletics liaisons, and owner and executive chairman of Capstar Partners LLC, a private investment firm.
- Robert Stillwell, member of the Board of Regents, one of the board’s athletics liaisons, retired partner at Baker Botts LLP and an original director of Mesa Petroleum Co.
- Michael Clement, accounting professor, McCombs School of Business at UT Austin, and faculty representative to the Men’s and Women’s Athletics Councils.
- Charles Matthews, former vice president and general counsel of Exxon Mobil, current president of the Texas Exes.
- Robert Rowling, former member of the Board of Regents and owner and chairman of TRT Holdings Inc.
- Charles Tate, chairman of Capital Royalty, former member of the executive committee of the university’s Commission of 125.
- Pamela Willeford, former U.S. ambassador to Switzerland and Liechtenstein and former chair of the Texas Higher Education Coordinating Board.
Kristi A. Dosh is an attorney and founder of BusinessofCollegeSports.com. Her latest book on the business of college football, Saturday Millionaires, is available now. Visit SaturdayMillionaires.com for retailers and a sneak peak at the first chapter! Follow her on Twitter: @SportsBizMiss.
The Athletics Construction Roundup is a monthly series on construction of athletics facilities. Each month I’ll provide you with a list of athletic construction projects in progress (and recently completed) across the country, including details on budget and scope of the project.
University of Alabama
Trustees have approved $30 million for a total renovation of Sewell-Thomas Stadium. Construction plans will be announced at a later date but the work is expected to begin following the 2014 baseball season.
Virginia Polytechnic Institute and State University (Virginia Tech)
After two years of debate over its location, Virginia Tech’s $25 million football indoor practice facility has been approved. In the best case scenario, work will begin in 2014 to be completed in time for the 2015 season.
University of North Dakota
Ground has been broken on the UND Athletics High Performance Center. The facility, which will be utilized by all teams, will feature a regulation football field and a track.
University of North Texas
With the addition of baseball as a varsity sport, a new facility should follow soon. Funds for that project are in the process of being raised.
University of Montana
Montana will begin construction on a $3 million student-athlete academic center. The previous academic success space was converted into offices.
Southern Illinois University
Work continues on SIU’s new baseball facility, Itchy Jones Stadium. The stadium is set to open on February 28 next year.
California State University, Fresno
Following two years of construction, work has been completed on Fresno State’s Meyers Family Sports Medicine Center. The building, which includes weight lifting areas, sports medicine facilities and lounge areas, is being billed as a “one-stop shop” for student-athletes.
University of Illinois at Chicago
Ground has been officially broken on UIC’s Curtis Granderson Stadium. In addition to being the home of the Flames, the stadium, funded by a donation from New York Yankee Curtis Granderson, will also be a major hub for youth baseball in the city.
Florida Gulf Coast University
This fascinating piece takes a look at the unique situation that FGCU faces in light of a sharp increase in enrollment. Currently, some varsity programs conduct strength and conditioning at a local L.A. Fitness.
Schools of the Pac-12 Conference
Thanks to a landmark deal, each football and basketball facility in the conference will feature Wi-Fi availability and increased cell reception.
Arizona State University
ASU has remodeled its Tillman Tunnel to include an image of Pat Tillman that appears to be leading the team onto the field.
University of Connecticut
UConn’s board of trustees has approved a $33.3 million basketball practice facility. In addition to standard areas for both the men’s and women’s teams, the building will include a basketball hall of fame.
Renovations will allow Marshall to utilize the nearby Kennedy Center for its nonconference baseball home games. The Herd will continue to play Conference USA home contests in Charleston.
West Virginia University
Thanks to a Distributed Antennae System, fans who attend Mountaineer football games should see an increase in cell reception.
Kent State University
A groundbreaking ceremony will take place early this month for Kent State’s baseball and softball hitting facility. This new project is the latest in a series of upgrades to the baseball and softball facilities.
California State University, Fullerton
Following a much talked about trend, Cal State Fullerton has added some local flair to its arena floor.
University of New Mexico
Construction will begin soon on New Mexico’s McKinnon Family Tennis Center. The facility will feature six sunken courts.
South Dakota State University
SDSU is in the early stages of planning a new 18,500 seat football stadium. The project could cost up to $65 million and be completed by the start of the 2016 season.
University of Texas at Arlington
UTA has announced a $5.5 million expansion of its baseball and softball complex. The new construction will include clubhouses for both teams.
North Carolina State University
NC State has unveiled renderings for its previously announced football indoor practice facility.
A firm has been selected for a new city owned arena in Chicago. DePaul will be the major tenant.
New Balance Field, a shared use facility that will be the home to BU field hockey, has opened. In addition to athletics, the venue will be used by club sports, recreation, and intramurals.
A few non-DI notes:
At Middlebury College, a squash facility, the first in a number of projects, is nearing completion.
Texas Lutheran University has announced a large scale that will create an athletic complex. Included in the project will be a football stadium, allowing games to be played on campus for the first time in 75 years.
Colorado School of Mines is building a $21 million football stadium.
I wanted to provide some brief thoughts on several hot topics in college sports today, so here we go:
College Football Super-Division
Back in February, I provided some analysis and predictions about the future of the NCAA. Specifically I discussed the idea of four BCS super- conferences, the possible separation of those schools from the NCAA, and the possible creation of a new football division for the BCS schools. The jury is still out on super-conferences (though things have stabilized for now with all but the SEC schools granting their television rights to their conferences), and defecting from the NCAA still doesn’t seem to have much momentum. However the idea of a new football division is picking up steam.
The BCS schools, through the voice of their conference commissioners, are saying enough. Their aggravated tone and sense of urgency leaps off the page. No longer will they allow the simple majority of the “have-nots” to out vote them at every turn, on every initiative, and on anything they can’t or don’t want to pay for (stipends anyone?). A fourth division is coming to an NCAA school near you, and it could be sooner rather than later. Even the college athletics watchdog Knight Commission came out over the summer with a recommendation that the division be considered.
What does a fourth division mean? Well, it depends. Most importantly in my view, it restores some sanity to all Division I football programs and athletic departments. The idea that schools in the Sun Belt or MAC are on playing the same game as those in the SEC or Pac-12 is ridiculous. What’s worse, pressuring those schools, administrators, donors/alumni, coaches and athletes to compete with BCS level schools both on the field and in the financial arms race is unrealistic and harmful.
The NCAA did something right this week by granting back some of Penn State’s scholarships taken away in the wake of the Sandusky debacle. It simply had no business wading into criminal matters that it does not legislate; and while this certainly doesn’t make what it did to Penn State right, it provides hope there is at least some clear thinking going on today in Indianapolis.
As I’m writing this post, news is breaking that the O’Bannon plaintiffs have settled their dispute with two of the three defendants in the case, EA Sports and the Collegiate Licensing Company (CLC). It appears EA Sports will no longer produce its college football game, though the terms of the settlement were not yet disclosed. This of course still leaves the NCAA as the lone defendant, and the case against it will presumably continue.
Those of you who have been following the Ed O’Bannon case probably know we’ve been waiting for the big ruling regarding whether or not the plaintiffs will be certified as a class (dramatically upping the stakes). The hearing on this issue occurred in June, and since then we’ve seen several procedural tactics but nothing too critical to the ultimate outcome of the case.
This week we’ve also seen the NCAA beef up its legal team, as well comment they are prepared to go all the way to the Supreme Court. This isn’t too surprising at this point in the proceedings; and it will be interesting to see if the tough talk continues if/when the plaintiffs are certified as a class.
A source within college athletics sent BusinessofCollegeSports.com a draft of a press release expected to be released today which contains a joint statement from all Division I athletic directors about pay-for-play and NCAA governance. The press release and a public statement are expected later today.
A record turnout of 120 Division 1A (Football Bowl Subdivision) athletics directors attended this year’s annual meeting in Dallas on Sept. 23 and 24, and they are in accordance in their belief that a unified voice is necessary to articulate their support of the primary mission of intercollegiate athletics: a world-class education and a quality athletic experience for talented student-athletes.
“As a group, the athletics directors are engaged in developing recommendations that will improve the governance and operation of intercollegiate athletics,” said Morgan Burke, president of the Division 1A Athletic Directors Association and athletics director at Purdue University.
Burke and Mike Alden, president of the National Association of Collegiate Directors of Athletics (NACDA) and athletics director at the University of Missouri, will serve as national spokesmen for all 351 Division 1 programs.
Discussions included topics ranging from NCAA governance and enforcement to the disparity of interests and resources among Division 1 schools to the rejection of the “pay-for-play” model.
While recent reports have chronicled the ineffective NCAA governance and enforcement systems, the Division 1A athletics directors have pledged to be active participants in the process to bring about change, calling for streamlining and efforts that complement and align with the values of higher education.
“While our jobs keep our focus on the daily issues of athletics on our campuses, we recognize that we are best positioned to implement realistic changes in the governance and administration of athletics,” Alden said. “As stewards of the enterprise, we are committed to providing meaningful, realistic and impactful leadership in defining a bright future for intercollegiate athletics.”
Realizing that differences exist among the 351 Division 1 programs, Burke said, “Changes need to reflect such variances while preserving and building upon areas of common interest.”
The athletics directors are chiefly concerned with public dialogue that does not accurately reflect the true value of intercollegiate athletics to student-athletes.
“Pay for play has no part in the amateur setting,” Burke said, noting that the value of a full scholarship and direct support services at Purdue has a value in excess of $250,000. Plus, student-athletes with a full scholarship have no loan to pay back, an expense that could run upwards of $200,000 at Purdue.
Furthermore, integrity issues need to be handled effectively in the enforcement system, which is presently under review. “Institutions must clearly understand the meaning of institutional control and must reinforce integrity as a core value,” Burke said.
Alden pointed out that athletics directors have been hired by the university presidents to lead their campus organizations and are important stakeholders in the national governance system. “We have been entrusted with the responsibility to provide a quality academic and athletic experience for our student-athletes on campus,” he said.
Many people live for their college football teams. However, once college ends, an alumnus does not always have the opportunity of living within the school’s network area. This problem has now been solved: TuneIn, the leading service for free online radio, has partnered with IMG College, Learfield Sports, ESPN Radio and Spartan Sports Network to provide free access to hundreds of college football games from coast to coast. Never again will a college football fan have to suffer the heartbreak of not being able to get real-time coverage of their beloved college football team’s performance on the field.
Thanks to TuneIn’s new partnership, all college football fans will now have the opportunity to catch free, live games from all of the major conferences. Pac-12 fans are even more in luck: every Pac-12 game will be broadcast.
These games can be accessed for free via the TuneIn app, which is available for download on iPhone and Android. It can also be accessed via tablets, vehicles and gaming consoles, and can be heard in over 200 countries and territories. Once in the app, one just needs to search for “college football” or go to the sports category and select college football. Then you can see which games are offered and either listen to them or add them to a digital calendar to be reminded of the upcoming game when it starts. You can also see a list online here.
Conference branding in the NCAA is crucial in creating an image and vision for a given conference. The latest conference to come out with a total transformation is the America East, a Division One non-FBS conference, which recently welcomed its 9th member, UMass-Lowell. As a student attending one of the America East member institutions, this post will address my take on the conference’s branding efforts and what other conferences can learn from them.
Why Branding is Essential for the America East
The America East is an interesting example to analyze given its member institutions. I am a senior at Binghamton University and have seen firsthand how this name sometimes fails to carry its own weight. While interning this summer in New York City, some had no idea what my university was, even though it was located three hours north of the City and has a strong academic reputation in the State of New York. Yet, when other interns would say that they attended universities like Michigan and Duke, there would be no questions as to what those institutions were because these schools have national reputations that eclipse their respective conferences. The reputations of America East schools are heavily regionally-based; once you leave the Northeast, the schools’ recognition levels drop-off dramatically.
This recognition issue is magnified by the fact that the America East is currently not an athletic powerhouse. For example, the last time that any member institution made it past the first round of the NCAA Men’s Basketball Tournament was in 2005.
Additionally, student enrollment at member institutions may impact recognition. If you look at the Big Ten, the schools’ student populations range from just under 15,000 to close to 60,000. In the America East, student populations only range from roughly 7,000-25,000. The sheer disparity in student populations alone, puts the America East conference at a competitive disadvantage in terms of visibility amongst Division 1 Conferences since less students have the ability of becoming a part of the America East legacy.
As a result, if the America East wants to be known nationally, its new image must elevate it to a level where despite its inherent weaknesses it can be nationally recognizable.
How the America East Re-Branded
In my opinion, the rebranding of the America East was done with great understanding of the task at hand. Its new tagline, “Building the Complete Student Athlete,” shows its attention to the conference’s strengths beyond the playing field. After interning in Binghamton University’s Athletic Department, and seeing an America East member institution run first-hand, I can tell that the conference wants its student athletes to find success not only with their teams but also in their academic, social, and professional lives. This tagline is essentially immortalized in the new symbol which has an A featuring three stripes to create an E. These three stripes, in turn, represent the conference’s three pillars: Academic Achievement, Leadership On and Off the Field, and Athletic Excellence. Additionally, since the logo can be color customized to each member institution’s school colors, the America East philosophy and image is able to infiltrate all the way through to each school’s local community, ensuring that all stakeholders feel a connection to the new brand.
What is interesting to note is that Zach Kelley, director of Brand Strategy at SME Branding, stated that the conference “desire[d] to relate to a more youthful and adventurous millennial demographic.” This desire can be directly related to the aforementioned discussion of student enrollments. With these schools admitting far fewer students than schools at some of the powerhouse conferences, potential student athletes may not find the America East member institutions as appealing. For example, a smaller school inherently has a smaller alumni network, which can be crucial when looking for a job once a student athlete’s college career is over. Yet, if the rebranding strategy works, potential student athletes may see the America East conference as great place to grow and play, and realize the conference’s potential to be nimble in a time of changing college athletic landscapes.
In terms of trying to carve a niche in an environment already saturated with well-known conferences, the America East understood the necessity to redefine itself. This transformational time, in terms of leadership and membership, will hopefully positively impact its legacy in the long-run. I am interested to see how the conference’s brand imaging and commitment to progressiveness will impact the recruitment of future student athletes. Only time will tell.
Recently, the America East Conference revealed its transformation. Its new logo, look, and brand identity exemplify the future of the conference and the living legacies of its member institutions. This change, however, got me thinking: what is really behind the brand and marketing strategies of each of the NCAA conferences?
In theory, the brand of each NCAA conference is supposed to help differentiate it from its competing conferences. It is meant to help create a story that vendors, alumni, fans, and students alike can feel proud of being a part of. In the midst of the many recent waves of conference realignment, this story is especially important to manufacture in order to ensure that the conferences live up to their historic ideals and adapt to the changing times.
The brand of each conference is essentially an extension of the brand of each member institution. Yet, where does the brand image of each school end and the brand image of the conference begin? As such, do schools with huge fan bases and followings directly affect the brand image of their conference? Do conferences with schools that are dominant in either football or basketball (or both) inherently have stronger brand identities or are the brands actually more creative and innovative? On top of this, where does the brand image of the conference end and the brand of the entire NCAA organization take over?
Over the coming weeks, I will be exploring the theme of brand identity within the NCAA. I will be looking at it mostly from the conference perspective, but will look to see how each member institution’s own brand image influences its conferences image as a whole.
Leave a comment below with some things you might like to see covered going forward about conference branding with the NCAA.
The coveted Old Leather Helmet is again up for the taking this Saturday when the No. 1 Alabama Crimson Tide face the Virginia Tech Hokies in the sixth annual Chick-Fil-A kickoff game held in Atlanta’s Georgia Dome.
With television contracts more lucrative in college football, the concept of neutral game sites has become increasingly more popular. Even though games situated on campus are what set collegiate athletics apart from its professional counterpart, kickoff games to start the season are typically blockbuster games featuring top teams squaring off.
The Chick-Fil-A Kickoff Game, now promoted as the “Daytona 500 of College Football,” has started a trend. Although neutral site games to start the season have been tried before in places like New York’s Meadowlands, the Chick-Fil-A Bowl was the first of the modern era. Its success has inspired other cities to host similar games.
This year, Cowboy Stadium in Arlington Texas will host LSU versus TCU in the Cowboys Classic, and Reliant Stadium in Houston will host Oklahoma State versus Mississippi State in the Advocare Texas Kickoff. Within the coming years cities such as Charlotte, Kansas City, MO and Orlando may host big name neutral site matchups of their own.
Strength-of-schedule plays a role when it comes time to deciding between playing at home or somewhere else in college football. Alabama is a prime example and will make its third appearance in the Chick-Fil-A Kickoff this year and will return next year to face West Virginia. The Crimson Tide also played in the Cowboys Classic last year against Michigan to open the 2012 season.
“When you play a good opponent in the first game, it really helps enhance your offseason program — your spring practice, your summer conditioning, because players are looking forward to playing an outstanding opponent early,” Alabama coach Nick Saban said.
Out of the six years the game has been running, 3 of the teams that made appearances in the game went on to contend in the SEC Championship game.
This year the Chick-Fil-A Kickoff Game’s projected total team payout is $5 million, which is higher than 24 bowl games. Also, according to USA Today, “the game endows a $50, 000 scholarship for each school, provides prime-time exposure on ESPN and creates ‘a bowl atmosphere in a one-day event’ with concerts and other fan activities outside the stadium.” The Chick-Fil-A Kickoff Game has also generated $195.4 million in economic impact to the metro Atlanta area since its conception.
The success of the kickoff game has catapulted the strength of the Chick-fil-A Bowl that is now considered to be apart of “New Year’s Six,” that include the Rose, Sugar, Fiesta, Orange and Cotton bowls. Those bowls will be the sites for the semifinals on a rotating basis, for the new College Football Playoffs that begin January of 2015.
The Kickoff game, alongside the Southeastern Conference championship game, the Chick-fil-A Bowl and the soon-to-be opened in 2014 College Football Hall of Fame has not only added to the thriving city of Atlanta, but has made it clear as to why it is now the nations unofficial college football capital.